Border-town cops worry about impact of Bay State pot law
Police: DUI arrests may rise due to legalization
SALEM, N.H. — Fireworks, tax-free liquors and big-ticket items – New Hampshire residents are used to seeing folks come north looking to take advantage of the Granite State’s looser regulations.
That phenomenon may get flipped on its head Dec. 15, when the possession, use and growing of marijuana becomes legal in Massachusetts, after Bay Staters voted 54-46 percent to legalize recreational use of the federally controlled substance.
Walk the line
After Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, pot tourism companies bloomed to draw visitors to the state, signaling what may become a trend along the Massachusetts and New Hampshire border.
For the states where marijuana is illegal, like New Hampshire, the question becomes a new reality – how to enforce a busy, porous border with a state with legal weed.
Lt. John Encarnacao commands the narcotics unit at the New Hampshire State Police, and explained that no protocols have been changed at this point for how the state police respond to marijuana possession or sales.
Encarnacao added visitors have to be smarter and more responsible about their decisions. If the situation worsens significantly with marijuana being brought into the state, state police will reassess responses.
“I haven’t received any changes as to the protocol we utilize up here. Now, going forward, if we see an influx of marijuana into the state, we may have to evaluate how we can do things differently,” he added.
Border towns like Salem and Plaistow with busy highway areas, like Routes 28 and 125, have particular reason to be concerned, given the people whose lives take them across the state line and back every day.
Now, both towns may have to contend with more Bay State residents – and returning New Hampshire citizens – possessing or having smoked marijuana.
Photo credit: marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press